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Posts Tagged ‘student learning’

Questions, Questions, Questions….

Friday, December 7th, 2012

A father and his small daughter were out walking one afternoon when the youngster asked how the electricity went through the wires stretched between the telephone poles.

“Don’t know,”  said the father.  “Never knew much about electricity.”

A few blocks farther on the girl asked what caused lightning and thunder.

“To tell the truth,”  said the father,  ” I never exactly understood that myself.”

The girl continued to ask questions throughout the walk, none of which the father could explain.  Finally, as they were nearing home, the girl asked, “Pop, I hope you don’t mind my asking so many questions….”

“Of course not,”  replied the father.  “How else are you going to learn?”

Sooner or later, of course, the girl will stop asking her father questions, and that will be unfortunate.  Curiosity and the desire to learn should be encouraged and nurtured.

Parents who want their children to do well in their studies but who don’t respect learning are deluding themselves.  Not many children will be motivated to do it on their own.  Those who have stopped learning and growing,  will find it difficult to inspire their children to do so, no matter how much they may pretend to encourage it.


Navigation! Graphics!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Navigation! Graphics! Those two things are the name of the game in Internet websites. eTutor is proud of its graphics, which appeal to a diversity of students. We use cartoons, current baseball stars, accurate diagrams of the circulatory system, and photographs of Tasmanian Devils, to name just a few. Photos of the starry night sky show the position of Orion and the Pleiades. In a lesson on comets, there are actual photos of comets. For younger children, we use appealing graphic representation of tomatoes, bunnies, and clowns.

The graphics are important because they must catch — and HOLD — a student’s interest and imagination. We choose graphics that illustrate our lessons — sometimes precisely (as in the graphics of the brain in our science lessons), sometimes whimsically (an octopus to illustrate the eight parts of speech.) Consistently, users tell us that our graphics are one of their favorite features.

Sample pictures from E-Tutor lessons. Clikck here to take a quick tour of E-Tutor.

The second important part of a Website is the navigation. How easy is it? eTutor requires you to know two things to be able to navigate it. First, the “BACK” button does not work. When parents and teachers want their students using eTutor, a prime concern is that students stay within that website. We guarantee our sites are 100% secure. By NOT using the “BACK” button (and instead closing windows by clicking in the top right or left hand corner), students are kept “within”  eTutor. It is easy for teachers and students to learn this and adjust to this in our website. Second, we use the “scroll” feature frequently. We want eTutor to load quickly and accurately. By loading the lesson all at once, and using the scroll feature (or clicking on the Index), students have very little to learn in terms of navigation. Students can click on the area they want to go to —”Study Guide”, for example — or scroll through the whole lesson. Either way,  eTutor provides an illustrative trip through education!



Online Learning – Changing OUr View of Schooling

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.

I had to agree with my friend, that we most often use our own schooling as a standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed, in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the information that took us years to assimilate. For the most part, children today begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. This provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency with learning information that is not available today. Therefore, I’m not certain that the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are adequate for today’s student.

This need to assimilate so much information makes the teaching learning process even more challenging.  The Internet offers the opportunity for students to work at their own level, at their own pace, on topics that are of personal interest.  Our work is a continuing effort to assist those we serve to understand and adapt their instructional programs by offering choices for personal learning.

Web-based, online learning gives students a unique opportunity to explore learning and gain knowledge at their own level.  Online learning offers a way to stay ahead of the information tide of an expanding knowledge base.  Students do not need to be time bound by their learning program.   Online learning can offer real-time learning in a vast number of subjects and topics for individual instruction. The best online learning programs will provide students and parents the flexibility necessary for true knowledge to take place.   We know that what we learned in school is not enough for the future of our children.  We have a responsibility to provide programs that offer skills and tools the students can use to ensure a successful future.

In this regard home schooling is reinventing the idea of school.  The integration of knowledge is a personal process, rather than a social process.  By viewing school not so much as a place, but the act of learning, those who home school have forced us to look at a new paradigm for schooling.  These parents recognize that acquiring knowledge does not need to be a group activity but is often more effective as an individual activity.  They know that how they learned is not the best method of learning for their children. Home schooling parents use varied approaches in teaching their children. Many have added online curricular programs to provide a new avenue of learning for their children.

How we learned and what we learned are not adequate measures of education for our children today. When I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me. The tried and true paradigms of the past, that served us well, that prepared us for a successful future, are not adequate today. We all have to try harder to challenge our own methods of educating and of evaluating schooling.

The Continuum of Learning Starts Early

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The instructional curriculum is a continuum that begins in the early years and progresses through a life time.  While there is much overlap in subjects, it is helpful to know that the simple task for the young learner of pushing a truck up a ramp (inclined plane) is a basic concept of physics that he will revisit many times in his educational experience.  Although students may find the words physics, economics and politics hard to know and understand, these are subjects to be included in any well rounded curriculum.  Students need to have a solid foundation in all subjects in order to meet success in their later learning experiences.

In Physics for example – simple machines teach about principals of physics.

In Economics - most young children play store and, the boys especially, like to play with trucks.  Transportation fits into Economics, as does going to the store.

Politics – The idea of choice is not new to young learners and although we might not call it politics, the idea that they might choose one pet over another or one friend out of many, is an example of politics.  Young children vote every day on things in their every day life.

As the student progresses through the online curriculum, the courses required may be somewhat different than what they would experience in a regular public or private school.  Subjects are integrated across the curricular area.  For instance, Algebra is often labeled….pre-Algebra, Algebra or Algebra I and II, or Advanced Algebra.  In an online curriculum, algebraic concepts might be taught throughout the subjects, such as, Computation, Estimation, Data Analysis, Measurement, Ratio and Percentage, and Geometry.  Algebra may be recommended at a higher grade,  if the course covers the basics to calculus.

Often students have difficulty linking previous learning to newer concepts.  A strong program provides age appropriate instruction which teaches ways to understand more difficult concepts.  When the student approaches a more difficult problem, perhaps in Physics, Economics or Politics, they may recall earlier learning that can provide a way to solve such a problem.

Learning From Teenagers

Friday, September 28th, 2012

What are the specialized needs of young adolescents ages 10-15? Why do we need to develop curricula and educational programs tailored to those unique needs? Researchers have found that young adolescents have the following developmental needs

  • positive social interaction with adults and peers
  • creative expression
  • structure and clear limits to physical activity
  • meaningful participation in families and school

Programs which meet the developmental needs of young adolescents use a variety of activities and strategies. As young adolescents have an orientation toward peers and a concern about social acceptance, work in small groups and advisory programs promote opportunities for interaction with peers and adults. Interdisciplinary team organization fosters feelings of belonging while advisory groups allow time and a small group for discussion of issues.

Achievement and competence is achieved through authentic assessment based on personal goals, challenging intellectual material focused on relevant problems and issues, and with recognition by peers and adults. The increase in the desire for autonomy can be addressed through learning strategies involving choice, a curriculum based on social and individual interests. Service projects and project based learning capitalize upon young adolescent’s creative expression and need for meaningful participation.

Is Your Child Ready for Schooling?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Learning was on the minds of everyone this month as the children in the neighborhood started school again. Backpacks bulged with new books and supplies, girls wore the latest fashions and boys found the baggiest jeans. Happy faces and anticipation as the little ones trooped off to catch the bus.

A neighbor stopped over and asked about her child who is three. With a birthday in September, she has been told that it might be better if she holds him back from attending school a year. Her concern is that he will be the youngest child in the class and may be immature and not do well in the school. This is a difficult question for me…..my own children have October birthdays and I did not hold either back. I know they struggled not only through elementary and high school, but college as well. Nevertheless, they both were bright enough and I didn’t see the problem as theirs, but that of the schools. In hindsight would I have done things differently….probably not. It is painful, though, as a parent, to see your child struggle.

So, my response to my neighbor was “wait and see, he is still young.” My children are adults now and there weren’t as many options then. However, it saddens me to think that a parent has to even consider this question today. Many parents choose to keep their children home for schooling, but others are unable to do this. So, do they have to worry that their child may not be ready? “Who is not ready, the child or the school?”

TEN Ways to Make the Most of STUDY TIME!

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Relax a bit after school before doing homework. Then….

1. Find the best time to study

After school, after dinner…..homework should have a definite start and finish time. If the homework is finished early, the remaining time should be used to double-check and review.

2. The best place to study

Homework headquarters should be away from television,  phone, and other distractions. A writing surface and good light are necessities. A small table may be the best place for a young student, while a desk or table, even the floor or a bed, may work for an older student.

3. Be prepared

Have all the materials needed to complete assignments. Pencils, sharpener, eraser and paper for younger students, a pen, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and more may be necessary for older students.

4. Make a homework list

Make an easy two-part homework checklist:

______ List homework assignments in each class each day as they are made.

______ Check over the list at the end of the school day to make sure you have all the materials necessary to take home.

Show the assignment sheet to educators. They can help to see that you have everything to complete assignments at home.

5. Keep a homework calendar

Record due dates for major long-range assignments on a special calendar brings the task into focus. Work backwards, identifying all the steps along the way to completion of the assignment.

If a short paper is due on Friday, the last step is to write the final draft on Thursday.  The first step is to begin reading and note taking on Monday.

6. Study rhythms

Tackle the most difficult assignments when you are most alert and save easier tasks for off-peak times. Schedule several smaller segments of time for memorization. It is easier to learn in short stretches than at one long session. Try using an easier assignment as a break from something more difficult.

7. When you get stuck – Ask these questions…..

  • Have you read and followed directions carefully?
  • Are you taking short cuts that are confusing you?
  • Are you using your book properly?
  • Read the directions aloud….now do they make sense?
  • Have you tried making a picture, table, graph, or diagram to represent the known facts and relationships?
  • Have you tried to sold a similar, but less difficult problem?
  • Have you checked the glossaries, the table of contents or the indexes for help?
  • Did you copy the words or numbers correctly?
  • Are you trying to do too much of the work in your head?
  • Have you checked for careless mistakes?

Still stuck? Do other homework assignments for awhile. Go to learning program early and check with the educator. Remember…..educators want success from their students.

8. Ask for help

It is okay to ask for help. Ask parents, older brothers and sisters, just ask.

9. Take a break

Schedule one or more short breaks during the study time. Stretching the mind for an hour, calls for stretching the body for a few minutes. Do jumping jacks, play ping pong or the drums…..get up and move.

10. Book bag at bedtime

Create a fail-proof method for getting completed homework assignments to school on time. A good slogan is “homework goes in the book bag at bedtime.”

The Showcase of Learning, A Portfolio Primer

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Portfolios are powerful because they help students learn about their learning.  They provide an opportunity for students to share the responsibility for collecting proof or evidence of learning.  Portfolios are worth doing well because they are a rich resource for reporting…they help student and parents see the results of student learning for themselves.

All portfolios are a collection of evidence of student learning.  They become powerful when they have a purpose.  There are three major purposes for portfolios:  to display student work around a theme or subject, to show the process of learning and to show growth or progress.

e-Tutor provides a portfolio for each student that the parent can access.  The portfolio gives a report of the lessons completed and the results of quizzes and exams.   We also encourage our students to keep their own  progress portfolio.  We suggest that the student create a folder for each one of the major curricular areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.  As the Activity and Extended Learning sections are completed for each lesson,  these are placed in the folders.  Parents know where to find their child’s work, they can review what their child has done,  the child can refer back to what has been achieved and they provide a basis for discussion.

As time goes by other things can be added to the portfolio, such as a time sheet to record the time the child began and ended a learning session.  Parents can add copies of the e-Tutor portfolio, so that comparisons can be made between accomplishments in  the two types of assessment.

Such a portfolio showcases the learner and his or her own learning, rather than who they could be by making comparisons with others.

The Family: A Safety Net

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Much has been written about what to do after problems arise with children and adolescents, yet many problems can be prevented.  One way we can prevent problems is by taking care of our children’s needs.

The need for physical and emotional safety is essential for all of us, but especially for children.  Physically and emotionally safe environments help children grow up happier and healthier.  This is also a lot of truth in the saying, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

There is today a great need for parents to create an island of safety in the home.  A safe environment can help prevent problems or reduce their severity as children are growing up.  In creating safety, parents lay the foundation for trust, mental health, and happiness.

A safe home environment involves more than just the house itself.  It also includes the neighborhood.  When you know your neighbors, you can let your kids know which ones you trust and who they can go to for help if you are not at home.  You also help to create a safe environment when you introduce your kids to your friends and when you encourage your children to have friends of their own.  Every child needs at least one good friend.  Friends….people who look out for each other….create a sense of safety in our lives.

Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction

The Value of Play

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Everyone senses on some level that the ability to be spontaneous and to play is a basic need and an important characteristic of healthy human beings.  However, not everyone can channel this force for ultimate health and happiness.  Unfortunately, learning to play is something we must do as children; if we do not learn how to play as a youngster, often it is a skill that cannot be learned as an adult.  Teach your child how to use her brain, body, emotions and imagination as vehicles for celebrating her higher self.  When you teach your child to play, you are showing her the path of intellectual, social and emotional transformation…a path which ultimately leads to self-actualization!

For our young children, everything they do is learning.  Adding fun to the doing and learning will make even the tedious seem like a game.  The more your child plays and does, the more opportunities, she has for finding favorites.  Imagine if you will, what would have happened if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s family had never set him on a piano bench and place his little hands on the keys?  Nothing.  What a loss that would have been for the world.  One of your most important jobs as a parent is to find out what natural talents lie within your child.

When a child is born, he has over a hundred billion brain cells.  Through play, trillions of synapses develop connecting these hundred billion cells in the brain.  Each time your preschooler plays a game, listens to music or stories from picture books and interacts with you, new synapses develop and the child’s intellect is enhanced.  Play, although it sounds simple, must be taken seriously.  Play is your child’s work!